Wednesday, September 29, 2004

Miracle Under 42nd Street

Holy monsoon, Batman!

I now have empathy for those waterlogged people down in Florida. Just 24 hours of Jeanne's remnants, and I am OVER it.

Ventured out of my apartment on West 47th last night around 6:45PM to head to a book party for my friend AJ Jacobs, author of the just-released "The Know-It-All." The party was at the Carriage House on East 38th and Lexington.

Even in the best of weather, there's no good way to get from 47th and 10th to 38th and Lex during rush hour. Taxis are out of the question. A crosstown bus is an even more laughable proposition. And going on foot? Maybe if you're from Kenya. And remember: it was POURING.

So I took what I thought would be the least of all evils: the subway.

Even this method is difficult at best. My options were as follows:

A) Walk 4 blocks over to Broadway and take the N/R/W to 34th St, then walk 3 more blocks over to Lex and then 4 blocks up to 38th.

B) Walk 2 blocks over to 8th, then 5 blocks down to 42nd, then take the No. 7 to Grand Central, then walk over to Lex and down 4 more blocks.

C) Blow off party, order Chinese, watch TV in underwear.

I went with B.

I arrived at the 42nd St platform to find it unbearably humid and teaming with people. The crowd became denser and the heat more profound as I made my way through that underground tunnel that connects the 8th Ave side to the 7th Ave side of the station.

I hate that tunnel under the best of circumstances. It always makes me think of that ice-bridge thing that Steve Austin has to cross in the Sasquatch episode of "The Six Million Dollar Man."

And what's with those weird placards that spell out a poem, one phrase at a time? "Overworked/So Tired./If Late/Get Fired./Why Bother?/Why the Pain?/Just Go Home/Do It Again."

Is that the creepiest, most depressing poem you've ever read? What is the MTA trying to do, induce mass suicide?

Anyway, by the time I reached the middle of the tunnel, the crowd had stopped moving. I don't mean slowed down -- I mean stopped. Thousands of commuters, standing completely still in a hot, humid underground tunnel.

It took less than a minute for several typical New Yorkers in the crowd to begin yelling out things like, "Yo!" and "What's da holdup?" and "What happened?" and "Why, I oughtta...!"

"The E-train is out," somebody said in a calm, even voice. (It may have actually been God talking.) "Everybody going to Queens is heading over to the 7. It's a bottleneck."

As I began to mop my face with my shirt and ponder what would happen if a terrorist set off a bomb... say.... RIGHT NOW..., I noticed a very strange thing happening:

Quiet.

Absolute quiet. Nobody spoke. Nobody pushed or shoved. Nobody began playing bongos or trying to sell batteries.

Instead, this giant, sweaty, anxious bunch of New Yorkers waited silently until finally, in teeny, tiny increments, we began to move forward. It was like we all made a silent pact with one another: "Look, don't make this any worse than it already is by acting like an asshole."

The bottleneck ended the moment I reached the 7th Avenue platform about ten minutes later. I got right on a waiting No. 7 train and drank in the delicious air conditioning.

It occurred to me how true it is, particularly after 9/11, that people are often at their best in times of crisis (no matter how minor this one turned out to be). That even in a city as loud, rude and confrontational as New York, we haven't lost our ability to come together for the greater good.

A comforting thought as I stepped out into the rain.

Monday, September 27, 2004

Life Lessons

LATE UPDATE: Just found out I've been selected as a finalist in the Telepictures Competition, where I will compete for a spot at the Manhattan Center performing in front of 1600, as well as opening for a Major Headliner. This is based on last night's showcase at the Improv (see below).

Wonderful turnout at the Improv last night; my heartfelt appreciation goes out to my parents, the Currys, Aunt Marcia, Uncle George, Cousins Andy and Elise, Cousin Susan, Seth and Dan. Your love and laughter were infectious, turning an otherwise so-so set on my part into (I'm told) one of the best of the night.

Special thanks to Dan for the post-mortem drink at Barrage; you are truly my most trusted creative advisor.

As for the "so-so," it was due to my stubborn insistence on trying out new material -- about the Jewish high holy days -- in front of a big club crowd (and a contest at that!), despite being warned against this by every professional comic on earth.

Throwing the baby out with the bathwater, I opened with it.

The general consensus (and notes from the club's booker) was that my opening was the weakest part, followed by a period of steady growth that peaked at the end. Which is not the worst thing in the world, but you never get a second chance to make a first impression.

In my own defense, I had worked a lot on the high holy day stuff, and if I hadn't used it last night, I would have had to wait another year to try it out: one of the pitfalls of topical humor.

On the other hand, I know better than to play with fire. I have enough of a stable of reliable bits by now to have easily socked it to 'em from beginning to end, especially given the measly six minutes I got. But nooooo.... I have to be a cowboy and open with untested material.

(Sidebar: Stable? Cowboy? I think I've been watching too much porn lately...)

ANYhoo, here's what I learned from this experience:

1) The purpose of bringers, other than to make money for the club and booker, is not to entertain the people you bring. They're entertained by you regardless, or they wouldn't be there. The purpose of bringers, if, indeed, there is one, is exposure. The goal is to kill. Period. There's no extra credit for taking risks.

2) Only Jews find high holy day humor funny.

3) The Improv keeps comics locked up in a tiny side room filled with loud rap music and the non-stop aroma of cooking grease for the entire duration of the show. It is not unlike a Stanley Milgram experiment from the 60s.

Onward and upward: This next week should prove to be most exhausting, as my work schedule is as follows:

Mon: NY Times 8AM-4PM

Tue: NY Times 8AM-4PM

Wed: NY Times 8AM-4PM, Barrage 7PM-4AM

Thu: SLEEP DAY

Fri: NY Times 8AM-4PM

Sat: Barrage 7PM-4AM

Sun: Bartend at private party, 7:30PM-Midnight

Mon: Rinse and repeat.

Wish me luck, and stay tuned.

P.S. Shameless plug of the week: For a delightful and educational experience, pick up, "The Know-It-All: One Man's Humble Quest to Become the Smartest Person in the World," by AJ Jacobs. It hits bookstores this week and chronicles the true story of a journalist (and personal friend of mine) who attemtps to read every volume of the Encyclopedia Britannica. It also mentions my sister, Anna (known to you daily blog readers as "The hairy sister from Stamford").

Sunday, September 26, 2004

Cha-Ching!

SPECIAL SUNDAY EDITION! (Brought to you by Playtex)

Eight hours left until I go on at The Improv. Fortunately, I had Yom Kippur eve dinner with my family Friday night, providing me a wealth of new material (some of which I tried out at Don't Tell Mama later that night).

Mama's was a nice little show, although the crowd was only about 20-strong. (Damn those religious Jews and their holidays!) It's a small room, so 20 people is not as sad as it sounds. Half-way through the show, I began to notice this one woman in the audience scrunching her eyes shut and rubbing her temples, like she had the world's worst migraine.

We performers couldn't keep our eyes off her, and her condition seemed to worsen. Finally, she stood up, swooned, and was slowly -- very slowly -- led out of the club by her husband and several other audience members. It turned out she wasn't in any kind of medical distress -- she was just drunk off her ass.

Of course, this gave Poppy Kramer, who went up immediataly after Drunky's departure, a terrific opportunity to rif. She rocked.

My favorite joke of the night, though, came from Nancy Witter, who bemoaned the fact that she hadn't had a date in years. And yet after a 1000-lb man died some years ago and had to be hoisted out of his bed by a crane, one of the mourners at his funeral was his 23-year-old fiancee.

"Now, I'm the first to admit I don't go out of my way to meet new people," said Witter. "BUT I LEAVE MY HOUSE!! COME ON! THIS GUY CAN GET ENGAGED BUT I CAN'T GET ONE DATE? HIS ENTIRE WARDROBE IS A BED-SHEET!"

Funny stuff.

After Mama's I headed down to Rose's Turn for my usual Friday night visit, only to find to my horror that Michael Isaacs was not at the piano. My performing without Michael Isaacs is like David Letterman performing without Paul Schaffer -- except that David Letterman is a show business icon and nobody's ever heard of me.

Tail between my legs, I crossed the street to Duplex and sang "Cat's in the Cradle" and did some schtick in front of a friendly crowd. On the way back to my seat, Maria, the bartender-slash-singer stopped me. "You're cute, and you can sing," she said.

It takes so little to make my evening -- one of the advantages of being a total narcissist.

From there I headed over to g, the gay-boy bar on 19th St. Bumped into an old friend (who shall remain nameless) who ultimately gave me some delicious dish about somebody who done me wrong in the past (who shall also remain nameless).

(Oooh, my first blind item! See, Mom? I do have SOME discretion!)

A fine Yom Kippur, indeed.

Saturday my friend, George, persuaded me to do the entire Central Park loop on rollerblades. I know from past experience how hellish this is -- particularly when you're coming back down the west side of the park. Through some anomaly of topography, it's up-hill the entire way. My legs were screaming by the time we reached Sheep Meadow and plopped ourselves down beneath an unexpexcted patch of sunshine. Dan soon joined us, and we all savored the last gasp of summer weather. (Cue the strings...)

Made out like a BANDIT at Barrage last night, walking out with a giant, stinking wad of cash. There was no explanation for this, except that people were uncommonly generous to me all night. To any customers who may be reading this: I thank you from the bottom of my greedy little heart.

On to the Improv! Don't say a prayer for me now -- save it 'til the morning after.

Shalom.

Thursday, September 23, 2004

Should I Stay, or Should I Go?

Because I'm a huge language geek, I'm always noticing semantic and syntactic differences between and among various people.

One of these rears its head whenever I get food at a deli or takeout place. I grew up in northern New Jersey, where the question they ask when you order counter food is "For here, or to go?"

Here in the big bad city, however, they ask "Stay or go?", which is often shortened to just "Stay?"

Even though I've lived here for 10 years, I still haven't gotten used to it. So there's always an awkward exchange after the counter attendant asks me: "Stay or go?"

"Uh... for here."

"What?! What?!"

"I mean, stay! Stay!"

Why I cannot adapt to this slight alteration is a mystery. When I attended the University of Michigan in the early 90s, it took me less than six months to learn that "pop" meant soda and "soda" meant seltzer. (I drew the line, however, at ending every question with a preposition, as in, "The Frieze Building? Where's that AT?")

I also gave up trying to teach those wacky Michiganders how to pronounce the first vowel sound in my name. So for four years, I was AY-uh-dam.

Another fight the midwesterners ultimately won was "in line" versus "on line." Growing up I always said, "Let's get on line for tickets," or whatever. They made fun of me in Ann Arbor for this. "It's not ON line, it's IN LINE, AY-uh-dam!"

(In England, of course, they "hop on the queue," or something frou-frou to that effect.)

But with the rise of the Internet, getting "on line" eventually became confused with getting "online" (not to be confused with getting OFF online), and I had to drop it. "In line" still sounds like it involves skating to me, though.

Then it was on to Atlanta, where I soon learned the colorful idioms of the Southeast. I actually heard myself saying to customers on the Macy's sales floor things like, "Are y'all looking for a toaster? I might could help you with that." Nice grammar, no?

It was when I began to say, "Bless your heart" that I knew I had to get the hell out of Atlanta. No gay Jew from North Jersey should ever utter the words "Bless your heart" unless he's performing in a drag version of "Steel Magnolias."

People always joke about the way New Yorkers talk, but I actually find people here more understandable than anyplace else. There are, however, some linguistic habits in the Big Apple that grate on my ears. And they all stem from the fact that New Yorkers like to talk a lot more than the like to listen.

"Excuse me, where can I find the mattress department?

"The WHO?!"

Right -- the who. This is tantamount to saying, "I care so little about you that not only will I not listen to your question, I won't even listen to your sentence structure. I am completely and totally deaf to you. Goodbye."

Lately I've noticed when I order from one of those build-your-own-salad places, they're overly aggressive about soliciting ingredients from me.

"Yes, I'd like cucumbers..."

"WHAT ELSE?!"

"Uh, grilled chicken..."

"WHAT ELSE?!"

"Brocollitomatoesrhardboiledegg..."

"ANYTHING ELSE?!"

I'm like, does this really need to be a running dialogue? Wouldn't it be faster if you just let me list all my food items at once?

You'll never hear a New Yorker say, "Pardon me?", "Excuse me?", or, least of all, "Sorry?" if he didn't hear what you said. It's "WHAT?!" or better yet, "HAH?!", a la Archie Bunker.

Or worst of all, this one: "Excuse me, could I please get some napkins?

"What happened?!"

What happened? What happened was I suddenly realized I wanted napkins, so I asked you for some.

"What happened?" is perhaps the most telling of all New York City replies. It beautifully illustrates the New York state of mind, where anything -- even life's most banal details -- constitutes a crisis.

But would I want to live anywhere else?

Fuggedaboudit.

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

Angels in Hell's Kitchen

As my next two performance dates -- Friday and Sunday -- approach, I find myself getting increasingly anxious. I tend to over-prepare for my sets; In the past I would type up verbatim scripts of all my jokes, then create an outline, then rehearse the set with the script, then without, then try to add physical stuff, and so forth.

This anal retentiveness probably comes from all the years I spent producing live TV news, where every second has to be planned. (OK, and I'm also just anal retentive by nature. Shocker.) Butt I'm trying a new approach these days, which is to keep it much looser -- play it by ear, so to speak, and see what develops.

This is not to say I'm not writing new jokes. But I'd like to go up there with a reliable stable of material -- a potpourri, if you will -- from which I can pick and choose onstage, rather than a predetermined set.

My goal is to come across fresher and more natural onstage, and to develop an organic rapport with each audience. And it may pay off. But in the meantime, it FREAKS ME OUT not to be planning out every moment. It actually makes me feel lazy, like I'm not doing my job; my job for which I receive no money. Did my mother do a number on me, or what?

Speaking of which, she and my father are coming to the Sunday show, as are a number of family friends and relatives. And the show is a contest, the winner of which gets to go to Miami and perform at the Improv there. No pressure.

Add to that my usual doubts about what the hell I'm doing with my life, and whether I'm not totally kidding myself wih this whole comedy business, and whether I should just hang it up and go back to having a "real" job with salary and benefits, and why I still get zits at the age of 33.

As I freak out, I look for inspiration wherever I can find it. I tuned in to Oprah, a reliable source, yesterday, but was sorely disappointed to find her entire show devoted to the lavish lifestyle of John Travolta. I couldn't care less how many planes John Travolta owns, or the fact that he's turned his home into an actual airport -- can you imagine anything more hideous?

So I flipped that off and instead watched two episodes of "Sex in the City" from HBO on Demand. That show always inspires me, as I find the writing and acting superb. One of the episodes, "A Woman's Right to Shoes," deals with Carrie's losing her $485 Manolo Blahniks at the home of her married friend, Kira. Later, when Carrie asks for compensation, Kira "shoe-shames" her.

I've seen this episode maybe three times, and it finally just dawned on me: Holy shit, that's Tatum O'Neil! Tatum O'Neil is playing Kira!

This realization wasn't exactly inspiring, but it did quench my need for meaningless trivia.

I guess the most inspiring thing I've heard all week was during the Emmys, when they showed a clip from Meryl Streep as the Mormon mother. Her character, Hannah, says, "An angel is a belief... with wings and arms to carry you. It's not to be afraid of. And if it can't hold you up, seek for something new."

No wonder Donny and Marie are so damn cheery.

Monday, September 20, 2004

Cue the Music...

Some quippy queen (probably Bruce Vilanch) once wrote that awards shows are to gay men what sporting events are to straight men. If that's so, then the Emmys telecast is like the World Series. (As opposed to the Oscars, which is the Superbowl.)

Trying my damndest to fulfill every stereotype, I live for awards shows. And last night's Emmys didn't disappoint for sheer drama and spontaneity.

Here now, my first annual list of winners and losers. (I feel so "Entertainment Weekly."):

BEST DRESSED: Cynthia Nixon, who outshone even Sarah Jessica.

WORST DRESSED: Edie Falco, who looked like the love child of Big Bird and Snuffle-upagus.

HONORARY SHARON STONE AWARD FOR THE CELEBRITY MOST DESPERATE FOR ATTENTION: Elaine Stritch.

FIRST RUNNER UP: Sharon Stone. Sweetie, you're too old to dress like a hooker.

FUNNIEST LINE OF THE ENTIRE EVENING, BAR NONE: Chris Rock, at the urinals: "Who the hell is Elaine Stitch?"

UNFUNNIEST RECURRING BIT: The whole Gary Shandling security camera thing.

MOST AWKWARD MOMENT: When horny women in the audience persisted in hooting at Tom Selleck as he tried to introduce the annual "Look Who's Dead" montage.

LOUDEST APPLAUSE FOR A CORPSE: Tony Randall, in said montage.

FIRST RUNNER UP: Weezy Jefferson.

STRANGEST APPEARANCE BY A CORPSE: Marlon Brando, again in the montage. Was he really known for his TV work?

BIGGEST DEFEAT OF A CORPSE: That of John Ritter, who lost to Kelsey Grammer for Best Actor in a Comedy.

HONORARY ED WOOD AWARD FOR TERRIBLE DIRECTING: To Louis Horvitz (who had just won his own Emmy for directing the Oscars), for cueing the music during Jeffrey Wright's AIDS speech. Adding insult to injury was that immediately following the speech, Gary Shandling and Billy Crystal engaged in a horribly unfunny backstage bit that dragged on a full four minutes. How 'bout next time we trim the bit and give the winner another 20 seconds to fight worldwide plague, m'kay?

CLASSIEST ACCEPTANCE SPEECH: Tony Kushner, who plugged gay marriage without attacking Bush or launching into a Kushner-esque diatribe.

WORST PERFORMANCE BY A HOUSEHOLD CLEANING INSTRUMENT: That mop sitting on top of Al Pacino, who also gave the night's most tedious acceptance.

TAKE MY WIFE, PLEASE! AWARD: To Mike Nichols, who in two acceptance speeches never once mentioned his wife, Diane Sawyer, to whom the cameras kept cutting to in anticipation.

BEST GARY SHANDLING THROW-AWAY LINE: When the tearful reality show winner told the celebrities in the crowd: "I'm a huge fan of every single person sitting out there." Shandling's reply: "Wow. What a risk."

WORST GARY SHANDLING THROW-AWAY LINE: "I'm gonna have kids when I'm 90. Yeah, I'm gonna do the Tony Randall thing." Um, yeah, he just died.

"YOU'RE FIRED!" AWARD: To whoever at ABC wrote the following announcer copy for James Spader's Emmy win walkup: "James Spader plays Alan Shore on ABC's The Practice!" Well, yes, he did before that show went off the air. He now plays the same character on a new ABC show, "Boston Legal," which you just failed to promote in front of 250 million households worldwide.

BIGGEST GOOF BY AN ACTING ICON: When Meryl Streep praised the work of her fellow nominee Judy Davis in "The Judy Garland Story," rather than "The Reagans," for which Davis was nominated this time.

BIGGEST GOOF: Billy Crystal.

BEST PARODY: The Daily Show's "Continental Skiff Boat Oarsmen for Veracity" commercial. Particularly hilarious when the colonial trollope exclaimed, "On that fateful night, Washington slept HERE!"

MOST WELCOME WEIGHT GAIN: A post-partum Debra Messing, who for once did not look skeletal.

LEAST WELCOME WEIGHT GAIN: E!'s replacement of the execrable Star Jones for Joan Rivers. So bad, it alost made me miss Melissa.

Almost.

Friday, September 17, 2004

"Baton Rouge, Cindy! Baton Rouge!"

Big ups to the Jewish relatives and their friends. They made it to New York Comedy Club on Rosh Hashanah eve to watch what turned out to be a fairly good (but not great) set on my part.

I opened strong -- then stumbled -- then recovered -- then froze. I mean literally froze. I finished a joke, the crowd reacted, and then my mind went blank. I was suddenly aware of myself on that stage, of all the lights on my face, and the deafening silence of the audience as they awaited my next bit. I could not think of a single word to say. It was surreal.

The whole thing probably lasted less than 10 seconds, but it seemed like an eternity to me. Finally, I said, "Wow, my mind went blank."

I heard some guy in the back mutter, "Stupid."

And I was like, "Stupid? Thanks, baby. Right back at'cha." I then immediately launched into some familiar material -- nothing I had planned to do -- and the set grew from there.

I closed very strong with my Hebrew School teacher bit -- something I had only done once before, to little effect. When I got to the punchline -- the absurdity of being forced to learn the Hebrew word for snowman ("ish sheleg"), as if we Bar Mitzvah kids would be reading from the Torah about Moses and the snowman, I had a genuine honest-to-goodness roll going. It seemed like the right moment to sign off, and I did.

The funny thing is, I don't even like that punchline -- it's seems too easy, somehow, and I've struggled to find a better ending. But they were going nuts!

The moral of the story: More than a year into doing standup, I still can't begin to predict what's going to happen on that stage.

Which is terrifying.

And thrilling.

Happy weekend.

Thursday, September 16, 2004

Party Like It's 5765

Happy Rosh Hashanah, y'all! For any of you clueless goyim in the house, Rosh Hashanah is the Jewish new year, and today marks the beginning of 5765. (We're not down with all that BC/AD crap. We just started at the beginning and have been counting forward ever since. We also follow a lunar calendar... like werewolves.)

Unlike every other culture on earth, our new year's festivities are marked by prayer, silent meditation, and hours of solemn Hebrew services, rather than getting trashed and partying like rock stars.

The most festive part of Rosh Hashanah is that we eat apples with honey, which could only be considered wild and crazy if one is diabetic.

The flip side of Rosh Hashanah is that every Jew across the world gets a paid day off from work. Every Jew, that is, except me. I no work, I no get paid. So here I am, ringing in the new year as the administrative slave that I am. (Sound of hornblower going off.)

I'm glad I came to work today, actually, because I got to meet June Lockhart. For reasons unknown to me, she was being shown around the building.

"Oh, June, this is Adam Sank. He's also a performer." (Sick feeling in pit of my stomach.)

"Really!" she exclaimed. "What do you do?"

"I'm a standup comic," I mumbled, feeling like the world's biggest loser.

"Really!" she repeated. "Well, I think that's GRAND!"

"Thank you," I said. "Hey, did Lassie ever hump your leg?"

No, I didn't say that. She was actually incredibly sweet.

And now, without further ado, the 10 things you should never do at a bar if you don't want to end up in Hell (in order of importance):

1) NOT DRINK. It's not a library. If you're in a bar and you're not ordering any drinks, you're just loitering. Would you ever go into a restaurant and not order food? Get the hell out.

2) NOT TIP. Listen close: $1 per drink is not a good tip, it's standard. A good tip is $2. A really good tip is $3. Anything more is greatly appreciated. But if you can't afford at least $1 per drink, buy a six-pack at the deli and drink it at home. (Sidebar: If your bartender or waiter "buys" you a drink, IT'S NOT FREE. Not only should you tip him, you should give him a ridiculously large tip. If you do not, you will never receive a "free" drink from this person again.) A final P.S. on this: Unlike with meals, drink tips have nothing to do with the cost of the drink. A draft beer deserves the same tip as a chocolate martini.

3) ASK STUPID QUESTIONS OF THE STAFF. "What other fun bars are there around here?" (Um, why would I want to help you take your business elsewhere when my livlihood depends on your business?) "What's with the fanny pack?" (I carry around hundreds of dollars in cash all night. What's with those shoes?) You get the point.

4) BREAK STUFF. This should actually be higher up on the list. While you're waiter's sweeping up the glass you just knocked over, he's not taking drink orders. While he's not taking drink orders, he's losing money. While he's losing money, he's wishing horrible things upon you.

5) TOUCH THE STAFF. I know it's confusing, but people who work in bars are not whores. And even whores like to make a financial arrangement before the touching begins.

6) DANCE. Doesn't matter how good a dancer you are. Doesn't matter how much you've had to drink. You look like an idiot and you're going to knock something over (see #4 above).

7) SHRED STUFF. There are good drugs out there to treat obsessive compulsive disorder. There's no good reason for you to spend the evening tearing your napkins and beer bottle labels into confetti.

8) COMPLAIN THAT YOUR DRINK ISN'T STRONG ENOUGH. A bartender makes all his drinks the same way. Unless it's his first night behind the bar, your complaint just makes you look like a cheap drunk. If you want more alcohol, order another drink.

9) USE THE BATHROOM FOR ANYTHING OTHER THAN URINATION. This is foul, and should go without saying.

10) START FIGHTS. You know those people who are "so nice" until they start drinking? Well, they shouldn't drink. Especially not in public.

On that cheery note, I bid you adieu. Hope to see you tonight at New York Comedy Club!

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

Attack of the Jews

So it turns out a swarm of relatives is coming, for the first time, to watch my upcoming performances. My cousin, Jeff, and his wife, Ronit, will be in from Dix Hills; my Aunt Marcia and Uncle George, from Port St. Lucie, FL; my cousins, Andy and Susan, and their spouses from Jersey; even my second-cousin, Matt, and his girlfriend, from Brooklyn!

While I'm thrilled to have so many loved ones in attendance, it's going to be very weird doing some of my regular material in front of people who really only know me in the context of weddings, bar mitzvahs and Jewish holidays. (And in the case of my cousin Andy, my Merrill Lynch account, over which he presides.) My stuff's not raunchy, per se, but some of it is rather intimate, and a lot of it is really GAY.

In particular, I wonder if it's a good idea to do my "gay nursing home" bit, which is based on my Grandma Sank's persona. Grandma Sank died several years ago at the age of 100, and my impersonation of her is done with love and admiration. But the aforementioned relatives, most of whom are direct descendants of Grandma, may not see the humor.

On the other hand, I was nervous as hell about my parents' seeing my act, and when they finally did, they loved it. (And I trash them more than anyone in my material.) So I guess I should just be myself and trust my relatives' sense of humor.

And maybe I'll do my seldom-performed Hebrew School teacher bit. They'll like that, and it's totally clean.

It's a funny thing about bringers I've noticed: Either 40 people show up for me, or I can't dredge up a single soul. It's always one extreme or the other. Fortunately, it looks like I'll more than meet my quota for tomorrow and next Sunday. (Don't let that stop you from coming, though! The more, the merrier!)

And now, the iced coffee recipe. This is for those of you who spend $8 a day on those Starbucks Frappucinos. My morning coffee tastes better, it's almost sugar-free, and it cost's about 1/10th of what Starbucks charges:

Brew 8 cups of strong coffee, using one heaping tablespoon of Bustelo brand grounds per cup of water. Add one teaspoon of vanilla to the basket before brewing.

Remove coffee from heat, cover and refrigerate.

Combine in a large glass the following, in order: 2 large ice cubes, 1/4 cup milk, 1/4 cup Coffee Mate brand French Vanilla flavor low-carb non-dairy creamer, 2 packets of Splenda brand non-sugar sweetener and 1/2 cup of the chilled coffee. Stir well and enjoy. Repeat every morning until coffee runs out -- then brew a fresh pot.

If you REALLY want it to taste like a Frapuccino, combine all the ingredients with crushed ice in a blender and blend until frothy.

In tomorrow's blog: How NOT to behave at a bar if you don't want to end up in Hell.

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Everdull

Ratings... sinking... again... must... keep... blogging...

So little of interest has happened in the last 24 hours that I hesitate to even bother with an entry today. Let's see: I watched the season premiere of "Everwood" last night. Treacly. Sophomoric. Dull. What does it say about me that I can no longer enjoy television aimed at a 14-year-old audience? (At the very least, it's nice to see Scott Wolf back on TV).

Read several anti-Bush diatribes in the new Vanity Fair before falling asleep. I love Vanity Fair, but I miss the days when it was filled with salacious gossip about the rich and famous rather than political screeds against the current administration (no matter how in accord with them I may be). Even Dominick Dunne, the trashiest of them all, writes this month about Ron Reagan Jr's speech to the DNC. I have no interest in reading about Ron Reagan Jr. unless it's about all the men he slept with while dancing with the Joffrey Ballet.

Woke up -- went to work -- about to leave. Just got a call from my Aunt Roni, who's up from Boca Raton with her significant other to escape Ivan's path. I'm off to the Millennium Hotel now to meet up with them.

In tomorrow's blog: My secret iced coffee recipe...

Monday, September 13, 2004

Screaming Sister, Hidden Headlight

My, what a fickle crowd are you comedysoapboxers. I take a few days off from blogging, and my "Hottest Comic" ratings plummet. (I'm not actually sure how the whole ratings system works on this site, but it seems like the more frequently I blog, the higher my name goes. Talk about pressure to perform!)

I am currently experiencing the calm before the storm -- the last few days of my self-imposed stand-up sabbatical. Then, beginning this Thursday, I have three performances in 11 days. I know that's nothing to you professional comic-types who get up 10 times a week, but it's a lot for me, working fulltime Monday-Saturday at non-comedy jobs.

Two of the three shows are bringers, which I loathe. I actually stopped bringing altogether last spring, when it became clear that I had used up every one of my friends, family members, acquaintances, colleagues and sex partners.

I was doing OK -- getting regular guest spots and so forth -- until a confluence of events (including two bookers with whom I had established relationships going "bye-bye") and my own work schedule caused the guest spots to dry up. So now I'm sort of starting from scratch. Feh!

My favorite question from people when I tell them I do standup: "How much do you get paid for performing?"

All this as I try to embark on yet another career doing voice over. Calgon -- take me away.

Friday night found me at Rose's Turn again. On my way there, as I was crossing 7th Avenue at Grove Street, a car that was stopped at the light suddenly wailed on its horn. I nearly went into cardiac arrest. Then a head popped out of the back window.

"Ohmigod, it's Adam Sank, the famous comedian!" screamed the head. It belonged to my sister, Laura, in from New Jersey for the evening with her husband and another couple. I tried to persuade them all to come to Rose's Turn, but they immediately decided it "wasn't their scene" and sped off toward the Holland Tunnel. Yuppies.

At the microphone I did some new stuff about getting tested for STDS, which the crowd seemed to enjoy well enough. But the biggest laughs came at the bridge of "Life in A Northern Town," when I did my moldy old material about breaking up with my boyfriend (with a few new Fire Island flourishes thrown in). WHY DOES THE OLD STUFF ALWAYS WORK BETTER THAN THE NEW STUFF?!

I also suggested that having the legendary Terry White (who tends bar there when not performing) sing backup for me was like having Aretha Franklin back up Jim J. Bullock.

The best thing was that after I sat down, several people asked me for my website address. And then the next night, when I took a drink order from a table at Barrage, one of the guys said, "We saw you last night at Rose's Turn. You were terrific." Made my weekend.

That's all for now. Hate to be such a comedy whore, but please -- if you possibly can -- come to one of my upcoming gigs. All information on my Website, www.adamsank.com, under "Upcoming Performances."

Ciao.

UPDATE: It's 90 minutes after I posted, and I am now back at the top spot on the site. I LOVE YOU GUYS!!

Wednesday, September 8, 2004

Drone of Arcadia

Just got back from my biannual dental appointment. I like my dentist, Dr. Gale Wernick. She's a nice, low-key Jewish lady who reminds me of my childhood Rabbi, Ellen Lewis.

Dr. Wernick's dental hygienist is another story. Her name is Arcadia, and she's from Nicaragua.

I hate Arcadia. Or, more to the point, I fear Arcadia. For one thing, she's the most aggressive hygienist through which my poor mouth has ever suffered. I never understood the whole teeth-cleaning process to begin with. Dentists always tell me I'm brushing too hard. "You're brushing too hard! You're eroding your gums!" Then they take that elongated fish hook and scrape it against my gum lines with such force that I look like an extra from "Dawn of the Dead."

Anyway, Arcadia goes really deep with that thing. She usually misses the tooth entirely and slices straight into the gum, and when I scream in agony, she makes comments to the effect that I am a girly-man.

She also talks incessantly. From the moment I get in the chair to the moment I leave, clutching my jaw in agony, I am treated to what is essentially a one-woman show, entitled, "Arcadia: A Life."

"Oh, this morning, I had such a hard time getting a cab. And you know those gypsy cabs are only supposed to go above 96th Street. But it was soaking rain and I... turn your head, Adam, I can't get the hook in deep enough... and so I said to the driver, 'Please! Please, I'm so wet...'" and on and on and on.

Arcadia's stories can change direction without warning or segue: "Oh, remember that one week this summer when it got really cold? Well my husband and I were on vacation, and we had to drive to K-Mart to buy sweaters. I threw up all night after my niece's wedding shower. And the next morning everything I smelled made me throw up. Open wider, I can't see through all the blood."

Sometimes, because she knows I speak Spanish, Arcadia will switch languages mid-story. "My son doesn't want to go back to school now that summer's over. Y ya tu sabes que los ninos nunca quieren regresar a la escuela. Pero I told him, 'Mira -- si tu no regresas a la escuela then I am going to put you over my knee and hit you 'til you're black and blue.' Spit."

Arcadia has very poor boundaries. Today she told me, "Wow, you're teeth look very good. Not like your, friend, Phillip, who keeps getting cavities."

Now, she knows Phillip is my ex-boyfriend, with whom I still share a dentist. And I know she's only mentioning his name to see if she can get some kind reaction out of me. But I'm thinking, isn't it a major breach of medical ethics for her to be discussing my ex-boyfriend's dental problems with me? (Of course, secretly, I am thrilled Phillip has cavities.)

Whenever I am in Arcadia's chair, I do the only thing possible given my circumstances: I pass out. This is a well-documented phenomenon among victims of torture. One's mind and body can only take so much pain before shutting down.

But Arcadia's sharp. She knows when I'm nodding off, and she'll bark the Spanish version of my name as loud as she can, "Adán! Adán! Wake up!"

Today, I did something unprecedented. She was gouging me so hard with that fish hook that I suddenly pushed her hand away from my face and interrupted her monologue: "You... ah cuh-ing duh crap ou uh my gums!"

"Ohhh," she said slowly. "OK."

From then on, silence.

And slightly less pain than before.

For about 15 minutes.

And then:

"So my husband and I decided to paint the house this summer, and we didn't realize how much time it was going to take, because you know once you find one little problem, you always find more, and..."

Then Dr. Wernick walked in. Arcadia clammed up immediately. I have never been so happy to see a dentist in my life. She spent exactly 30 seconds looking in my mouth, declared me dentally healthy, and walked out.

"Adios, Arcadia," I said and got the hell out of there. I'm so glad my benefits run out in January and I never have to go back there.

Tuesday, September 7, 2004

Going into Labor

A mighty fine Labor Day Weekend, indeed -- and certainly better than for those poor wet people down in Florida. What a mess. (Although I have to say, if you're dumb enough to live in a mobile home... in Florida... ON THE WATER... you probably deserve to be destroyed by Mother Nature).

Friday night I went with my friend, Amy, to Rose's Turn. You know when you walk into a place and can tell instantly that the crowd is fantastic? These people were lapping up performers like a kitten to a bowl of warm milk.

Michael Isaacs called me up to the mic, and I did a few very low-brow jokes about the RNC. (Republicans don't give good head, or something to that effect.) The crowd roared as if I were Chris Rock. I attempted another joke, and a drunk old man from the back of the bar yelled out, "Shut up and sing something!"

I was like, "That's my dad, everyone." Oldest heckler comeback in the world, right? But they actually applauded. Michael started playing the intro to "Life in a Northern Town," by Dream Academy, which is always my first song. At the bridge, I launched into some stuff about my mother, and how when I asked her to come up with a quote for my website (www.adamsank.com), her first response was, "Something complimentary?"

I said, "No, Mom, just be yourself."

(Crowd explodes in Laughter. I'm telling you, they were EASY.)

Then I sang "Cat's in the Cradle," which I dedicated to my "father" (the drunk heckler). Did some jokes about my real father during the bridge. Audience was so hyper-reactive that when I said, "Let me tell you about my father..." they all went "Awwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww!"

I was like, "Shut up, I haven't told you anything yet!"

All in all, a BLAST. I know as a "serious comic," I'm not supposed to appreciate the easy laughs. But I do, Blanche, I do.

Back at Barrage Saturday night. It was full moon at Bellvue -- a total freak-show collection of the few people who didn't get invited out of town for Labor Day (like myself). I made buttkiss dollars but got cut very early, which was nice.

Sunday I awoke and rollerbladed to the Met to meet my parents for brunch. Very pleasant until my Mom brought up my blog from last Friday. "You know, I didn't like reading that part about the ecstasy," she said, reaching for another bite of her mushroom quiche. "You don't really do ecstasy, do you?"

This led to a full-out discussion of my past drug use. Not at all uncomfortable.

My friend, Dan, suggested I maintain a "Family-Friendly" blog, separate from this NC-17 rated one. I'm considering it.

Monday I met a group of friends down on Christopher St Pier for an impromptu Labor Day picnic. Beautiful day -- and I got roasted by the sun.

Come see me at New York Comedy Club Thursday, Sept 16th at 9PM! More info on my site...